Week 4 of the NFL season has arrived, and so have the first bye weeks of the year.
Just the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers get this week off, but that will still cause some increased activity on the waiver-wire this week.
The pickings are slim this time of year. Any player who has made a statement in the first three weeks has likely been snatched up, while the players that remain are nothing more than risky gambles. Fantasy football players who jumped at Green Bay running back James Starks last week certainly know that to be true after watching Starks go down with a knee injury early on Sunday against the Bengals.
With Green Bay and Carolina on byes, there will be a bit of a scramble to find wide receivers to replace the likes of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones, Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell.
Two New York Jets wideouts Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill are decent options. Both are averaging double digits in points per reception leagues and both had long touchdown catches a week ago against Buffalo. While Holmes is the bigger name, I recommend leaning toward Hill. Hill has been the more consistent player with at least three catches every week, while Holmes hadn't produced a decent game until last weekend's five-catch, 154-yard game. Holmes will also draw the opposing team's top corner back, giving Hill a better chance to draw one-on-one opportunities that are winnable. Of course, starting any Jets receiver is a toss up any given week.
Kansas City Chiefs receiver Donnie Avery may be worth considering for the same reason as Hill. While the Philadelphia Eagles tried to load up coverage against Dwayne Bowe while always watching for Jamaal Charles to run the ball or catch it out of the backfield, Avery had a big game catching seven passes for 141 yards. Avery saw a season-high in targets and may see the ball quite a bit again this week when the 3-0 Chiefs play the 0-3 New York Giants. Avery should see some good matchups against a Giants defense that has struggled against the pass.
The Chiefs defense is also worth picking up in all leagues. Kansas City is the No. 1-ranked fantasy defense, but it is owned in less than 50 percent of fantasy leagues. Also worth considering is the Tennessee defense this weekend against the New York Jets.
If you are looking for a tight end, it is a good time to look to Buffalo's Scott Chandler. Chandler's fantasy value relies far too heavily on him being able to get a touchdown, but Chandler saw pay dirt on Sunday against the Jets while also catching five balls for 79 yards. While it is tough to start Chandler every week, he may be worth going with this weekend against the Baltimore defense, which is ranked 25th against tight ends this year. If Buffalo gets down in that game, the Bills will also have to throw a lot, and Chandler is a nice big target for EJ Manuel over the middle of the field.
Our survivor pool pick this week is the Denver Broncos at home to beat the Philadelphia Eagles. If you have already used the Broncos, consider the Colts against Jacksonville, even though the Colts are on the road. Tennessee at home against the New York Jets is risky, but it is one of the safer plays with a great slate of NFL games coming up this weekend.John Livingston covers sports for The Daily Times and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.